The Passion Play that has been performed in Southern Germany every 10 years in fulfillment of a vow made in the time of the Plague had to be postponed this year. But the vow will be fulfilled, said the play’s director, and tickets for the 2022 performances go on sale Monday.
Organizers of the play in Oberammergau, Germany, said this week that almost half a million tickets sold for the 2020 season have been “reversed,” meaning either rescheduled or refunded.
“Every customer who had already booked had the option of either rebooking or canceling the tickets they had already purchased. Fifty percent of the tickets are already booked for 2022,” said Walter Rutz, Managing Director of Passionsspiele Oberammergau Vertriebs GmbH & Co. KG. “We are pleased that so many customers have stayed with us.”
The remaining tickets will be available for purchase starting October 5. Pilgrims have the option of buying single tickets or packages that include overnight stays and dinner during the long play’s intermission.
The play will premiere on May 14, 2022, and run through October 2, 2022. Of course, there is still a lot of uncertainty about what the future holds, with a vaccine not yet available for the novel coronavirus. But Director Christian Stückl has confidence.
“We are in contact with the responsible authorities and will coordinate closely with them,” Stückl said. But “we will fulfill the vow and continue the tradition of the Passion Play.”
The origin of the play goes back to a vow made in 1633 by the people of Oberammergau to avert the plague which was rampant at that time. Following the 10-year rhythm, the 42nd Passion Play would have taken place in the year 2020. The play had also experienced a delay exactly 100 years earlier, as organizers postponed the 1920 season until 1922, in light of the high number of World War I casualties. Then, the Second World War prevented the 1940 season altogether.
For the 2022 Passion Play, 103 performances are planned. Every one of the 2,400 cast members was born in or has lived in Oberammergau for at least 20 years. The Passion Play Theatre in Oberammergau, built in 1898, has 4,500 seats, making it the largest open-air stage with a covered auditorium in the world. The stage was built in 1928.
An important day for the people of Oberammergau on the way to the next Passion Play will be Ash Wednesday on February 17, 2021. From this day on, the hair and beard decree will be in effect again, and all participants of the Passion Play will be asked to let their hair grow. The men will be asked to let their beards grow, unless they are playing Roman soldiers. The start of rehearsals with all participants is planned for December 2021.